Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) are a cool way to build structures. I was introduced to them formally when my brother Maurice built a duplex with them in the Bay Area.

Years later, in a preliminary design meeting with a client here in Idaho, I suggested that SIP Construction was a cool way to build strong and well insulated buildings. I believe he sensed my excitement and enthusiasm for the project.

A SIP Oreo

A SIP Oreo

SIPs are like an Oreo

They are made on a architectural plan, with white foam blocks in the middle and OSB on the outside “much like an Oreo”

I was asked to participate in the project once the decision was made to move forward. This is when I discovered that remodeling with SIP’s is a very challenging undertaking. Precision Panel LLC. of Northern Idaho who is now defunct, made our panels. We use a firm out of Montana now and are very pleased with the product.

According to Paul the SIP designer “Anything can be made to work when you are stick framing” SIPs on the other hand are not easily or normally field modified. Exacting tolerances of 1/8″ are the norm. With this information in hand we plowed forward with our project. The plan was to create a two story addition behind a two car garage and then add a second story to the existing structure. Challenges included hundreds of miles of distance between the plant and our job site.

The project is like a big puzzle

The Lid going on

The Lid going on

The load of panels appeared on two semi trucks. They were sorted and assembled with the help of some serious manpower and heavy equipment. Lots of glue, tape, screws, and some basic instructions. Once the walls were up, the 500 pound roof panels were slung into position with the help of a savvy crane operator and some custom fabricated brackets, (thanks Ron Dunagan) in an afternoon. We even got a little help from Boise Schools Construction Program, (thanks Mr. Cupps)

The awesome results

“I think you could heat the entire structure with a candle” I said. Levco now has the experience and expertise for this type of high performance structure. SIP panels are a viable option if you want a quickly constructed energy efficient building. Remodeling with them is very challenging. The rewards are fast construction and extreme energy efficiency for years to come, for the client. (We joked that we were building an ark. With that much foam…it should float.)

Pro’s and Con’ to remodeling with SIPs


The inner sanctum

There are advantages and disadvantages to every construction technique. Remodeling with SIP’s is a challenge that requires intense attention to detail, a cool demeanor, and ability to modify panels on the fly. In this case, some masterfully done field modifications were required to fit everything together perfectly. Stick framed structures just don’t use the same tolerances. Harmonizing a stick framed building to SIP’s is an art. Now that the Levco Team has our first structure under our belts, any future projects will be a breeze.

Our hats are off to everyone involved with this building project. Kudos to our client, who let us show him that we were ready and able to “Figure it out on the fly”, and not let small challenges derail us. Levco is now set up to be the go-to contractor for SIP construction in the Treasure Valley area.

Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, or SIP panels, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261

If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor please contact me, you’ll be glad you did.